This post is sponsored by Ocean Spray®
Decades ago, before I was born, my mom decided that Ocean Spray® canned, jellied cranberry sauce was the only cranberry sauce the world ever needed. And that was it–case closed on cranberry sauce! For the next fifteen or so years, my family was committed and completely content, slicing our cranberry sauce every Thanksgiving. It’s not like we talked it through, or even said it aloud, but we all seemed to have this pact: no new cranberry sauce.
When I was in my early twenties, though, just before Thanksgiving, I bought my first bag of Ocean Spray® cranberries and tried making my own. I added orange juice and zest. I was a convert immediately, and so was the rest of my family. True to our traditions (or predictability), we’ve spent nearly 10 years now making that same recipe.
Recently, I experimented with an updated cranberry sauce: a cranberry orange relish, and it was even easier than my long-standing favorite recipe. It required absolutely no cooking at all–just a quick pulse of cranberries and orange segments in a food processor. I loved the zippiness and chunky texture. It reminded me more of a salsa than a sauce. It was still sweet of course, from the sugar added to it, but overall, this cranberry topping is much brighter and more tart, which is what’s so appealing about cranberry sauce to begin with–the contrast it offers from all the richness of the other dishes.
Regardless of what kind of sauce you like–the jellied can-shaped kind that tastes like every year of my childhood (and that I love to this day!), the homemade whole berry version, or something a little less traditional–cranberries and cranberry sauce are two foods whose leftovers never get old and never go to waste. If anything, the cranberry sauce is the first to get used up–just one reason I always make triple batches. Last year, my mom told me to make 4 batches and I thought she was insane, but I made it anyway. Guess what we had none of 2 days later?
Maybe this year you’ll make a quadruple batch and have leftovers to use up. Here are some of my favorite ways to use both cranberries (ever have a fresh bag on hand?) and cranberry sauce–after Turkey Day:
6 Ways to Use Cranberries & Leftover Cranberry Sauce
2. Use leftover sauce or relish on top of chicken, pork, or beef, and mix it with a fresh herb for a more savory flavor (basil, thyme, mint, or rosemary).
3. Layer sauce or relish with greek yogurt and granola, along with cinnamon and nuts, for an autumn parfait
4. Add fresh cranberries to a pitcher of water for decorative serving. Or, halve a handful of cranberries, add them to a glass of water, and muddle them to release some of the cranberries’ nutrients
5. Freeze fresh cranberries and use them to make a Cranberry Banana Smoothie: In a blender, combine: 1 cup frozen cranberries, 1 banana, ½ orange, ½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Blend until smooth.
6. Spread leftover cranberry sauce on blue or brie cheese (with or without crackers) for a snack or appetizer (use it on a cheese plate!).
What do you do with leftover cranberry sauce?
Ocean Spray® Bogs Across America 2015
Ocean Spray® is celebrating its 85th anniversary this year by exploring how Thanksgiving traditions – and cranberries’ place in the meal – have evolved over the years. Last week, I joined Chef Curtis Stone for a pre-Thanksgiving feast with Ocean Spray® cranberry growers in a cranberry bog in Rockefeller Center.
I loved getting to eat and talk with the farmers and hear all about how the cranberries are harvested. I was shocked to find out that many of them were from Massachusetts. How have I lived 30 years not knowing that there are cranberry farms about 30 minutes from my hometown? I chatted for a long long time with one farmer, who was just about the nicest person in the world, all about her genius recipe for cranberry sorbet, and we even gushed about our shared love of White’s Bakery in Hingham, MA. Why am I so prideful about a bakery I don’t own? You really have to wonder sometimes.
To show the changing traditions, our meal was a mix of classic dishes and contemporary ones–from the mainstay green bean casserole to a modern spinach, quinoa, and cranberry stuffing. It was all delicious, and such a creative way to celebrate the cranberry!